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The American League Rookie Pitchers

For the last few weeks, I have been focusing on the hitting side of things when it comes to the Rookie of the Year race in both the American and National Leagues. In this post, we are going to take a look at the pitchers currently in the running for the year-end award in the AL. It seems to be a down year for rookie pitchers, though, with the likes of Tampa Bay’s David Price still in the minors.

The American League

If you’re an ERA fan, then Trevor Cahill’s 4.50 would probably lead you think, “OK, not great but it could be worse.” Well it is. The Oakland right-hander has allowed 27 hits and 18 walks in just 26 innings of work. He’s also added just eight strikeouts. With a line-drive rate of 24 percent, BABIP of .269, and a FIP of 6.37, he’s been lucky (while playing in a big home park) and he’s been bailed out by the defenders behind him. The 21-year-old could probably use a little more polish in the minors.

Cahill’s teammate Brett Anderson has also had a rough go of things so far this year. Coming into the season, the 21-year-old lefty was considered a more advanced pitcher than most players his age but he’s still learning. Anderson has a 5.79 ERA (5.00 FIP) and has allowed 33 hits and nine walks in 28 innings of work. He’s also struck out an uncharacteristically low 4.5 batters per nine innings. In fairness, he’s faced three very tough lineups in Texas, Boston and New York (AL). Anderson is getting opponents to pound the ball into the ground (55.7 GB%) and they also are not hitting the ball with consistent authority against him (10.3 LD%). He’s going to see some good results soon.

Detroit’s Rick Porcello is another player who has been rushed to the Majors, after spending all of last season in high A-ball. The right-hander currently has allowed 28 hits and nine walks in 28.2 innings of work. Porcello has a 4.71 ERA (5.80 FIP) in his five starts. The six home runs allowed are worrisome (1.88 HR/9) but his groundball rate is good (52.1 GB%).

The sixth overall pick from the 2005 draft, Ricky Romero is still trying to live up to that lofty standard. In his first three starts of the season – after surprising everyone by nailing down a rotation spot in spring training – Romero was outstanding. He posted a 1.71 ERA (3.28 FIP) with 19 hits and just four walks in 21 innings of work. Unfortunately, he injured his oblique and hasn’t pitched since April 19. Fortunately for Toronto, he should be back within two weeks. The talent is there, he just needs to trust his stuff and hope he’s finally turned the corner with his command and control.

There may not be a rookie in the Majors who is flying more under the radar than Romero’s teammate Scott Richmond. The Canadian is a great story as a 29-year-old rookie. He took three years off school after high school and did not graduate from Oklahoma State University until he was 25, so he went undrafted. The Jays noticed him while he was pitching in independent baseball in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Within one year of signing, he pitched 27 innings for the Jays in 2008. So far this year, he has allowed 25 hits and 12 walks in 30.1 innings. He also has 26 strikeouts. Among MLB rookies, Richmond is second in strikeouts and innings pitched, as well as first in ERA and wins. He’s 12th in all of baseball in ERA amongst starters with at least 30 innings pitched.